Exeter Chiefs have fielded a new-look side to play their first game in the new British & Irish Cup against Newport on Friday night.
Chiefs' head coach Rob Baxter has used the break in the league to his advantage to give game-time to players returning from injury and who have not featured heavily in the last 11 weeks, as well as first chances for some young players.
Academy player Michael Stupple, who goes by the name of Herbie, will make his first start for Chiefs at Rodney Parade, and may well be followed onto the pitch by potential debutants Jack Andrew, Lewis Calder and Dave Ewers off the bench. Adam and Ewers are also part of Exeter Chiefs' academy while Calder, son of Lions and Scotland player Jim Calder and nephew of rugby legend Finlay Calder, is on load from Redruth.
Baxter said: "We are really looking forward to this game. We have made a lot of changes by including some guys who deserve more game-time.
"Herbie is one of our academy players and has been training with us all season and has been playing quality rugby down at Redruth."
Stupple, who played at centre for Redruth at the weekend, said: "I have been looking forward to this all season; just hoping to put a No 8 shirt on for Exeter. I have been playing for Redruth, which has been good, but this is what I have wanted to do. Rob has given me a chance and I want to show him what I can do." Sean Tomes will start at lock on Friday and will be armed with a certain amount of inside knowledge after playing for Newport last season. He said: "I know a little about Newport as I played a little bit for them when I was involved with the Dragons. South Wales is massive for rugby; it's their main sport and they take a lot of pride in their rugby. They like to play an expansive game while keeping the emphasis on tough forward play. We'll definitely be playing some rugby up there!" Newport v Exeter Chiefs
British & Irish Cup
Friday, November 20, 2009 - KO 7.30pm
15 Sean Marsden 14 Nic Sestaret 13 Bryan Rennie 12 Tom Bedford 11 Paul McKenzie 10 Danny Gray 9 Clive Stuart-Smith 1 Ben Moon 2 Saul Nelson 3 Ruaidhri Murphy 4 Sean Tomes 5 James Hanks 6 Alan Miller (capt) 7 Andy Miller 8 Michael Stupple
16 Jack Andrew 17 Sam Blythe 18 Toby Freeman 19 Lewis Calder 20 Dave Ewers 21 Richard Bolt 22 Matt Cornwell
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.